Thomas Sorensen says Aston Villa's failure to replace Christian Benteke has been the difference this season

The former Villa goalkeeper believes the Belgian striker's sale has been a direct cause of their demise.

Former Aston Villa goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen has told Sport 360 that the failure to replace Christian Benteke with another top-quality striker has been the killer blow for his old club this season.

Villa suffered a first relegation in nearly 30 years as their unbroken run in the Premier League came to an end in ignominious fashion this term.

The Birmingham club won only three league games, being relegated with the third-lowest points total in the 24 years of the revamped top flight's existence.

Though they have been beset by off-field issues, such as the unsuccessful search for a new owner, short-lived changes in the boardroom, and the sackings of two managers, the former European Cup winners have simply been nowhere near a good enough side to stay up.

Sorensen, who played 158 times in five seasons at Villa Park, believes that the failure to adequately replace Benteke when he left for Liverpool in a £32.5 million deal last summer was perhaps the key reason for the club's alarming plight.

The Dane told Sport 360: "Selling Benteke the previous year. They haven't been able to find someone who can score them 25 goals that he scored in the previous years, and it makes a big difference.

"It's those tight games where suddenly you don't get the goals and you don't win, so I think that's a big difference from the years before."

As alluded to by the 39-year-old, Benteke was a priceless source of goals during his three years at Villa, netting 49 times in 101 appearances.

This season, the club's top scorer has been £9 million summer signing Jordan Ayew with seven, while the target man bought to replace Benteke, Rudy Gestede, netted just six.

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